Broken Ankle Basics

Our ankles are pretty amazing if you think about it. They support our weight, help us move around in all different directions, and allow us to jump, run, pivot, lunge, and more. Needless to say, your ankle joint can handle a great amount of stress, but too much stress can eventually – or in most cases, suddenly – result in a broken ankle.

What’s to Blame for Ankle Breaks?

Fixing a broken ankle It’s possible that repetitive stress can lead to a broken ankle, as this can cause cracks in bones over time, and eventually those cracks can break completely. However, ankle fractures mainly occur due to trauma like a car accident or sudden force in an athletic competition. If enough stress is placed on your ankle joint, though, it may break after simply rolling or twisting it beyond its range of motion. Often, when this happens, you may mistakenly assume you have sustained an ankle sprain – a big difference!

A sprain involves ligaments that hold your bones in place. A break involves the bone and can include ligament damage as well, which is why symptoms are so similar -- pain, swelling, bruising, and difficulty bearing weight. That’s why it’s vital that you come in for an X-ray, as this is the only way to get an accurate diagnosis of your injury. We can’t stress the importance of this enough, as an ankle break left untreated can heal incorrectly and result in serious, ongoing issues, including deformity, chronic pain, and arthritis. 

Fixing Fractured Ankles

Your ankle is made up of three bones that come together – the tibia, fibula, and talus. The tibia is the inner shin bone, the fibula resides on the outer side of the lower leg, and the talus is a bone in the foot. Any of these bones can break if enough force is placed upon them, and the injury can range from a mild crack to a severe break that pierces your skin. Because there are different degrees of fractures, treatment varies depending on your injury. Typically, however, if bones are aligned properly your foot will be casted to immobilize your ankle and keep everything in position as it heals. If bones are not aligned, they will need to be manipulated back into place before casting. It’s possible that conservative measures can accomplish this, but severely misaligned bones will likely need surgical intervention. Surgery is absolutely necessary if bones have broken through the skin. No matter what, you will have to refrain from bearing weight until your broken ankle is healed enough to sustain pressure placed upon it.

Recovery, like treatment, depends on a variety of factors including severity of the injury, lifestyle, and age. It will take at least 4 – 8 weeks, followed by several months of physical therapy to regain strength, flexibility, and range-of-motion.

For Help with an Ankle Break, Don’t Wait!

If you are experiencing ankle pain, especially if it is accompanied by inflammation, bruising, and difficulty walking, call us right away at (303) 805-5156. We will assess your injury and make sure to get you the immediate and proper treatment you need to heal correctly and as quickly as possible. An ankle fracture is a serious injury that needs prompt attention. Don’t hobble around in pain – come see us so we can help!

Dr. Cynthia Oberholtzer-Classen, DPM
Founder and Owner of Podiatry Associates, PC